Kids these days don’t know the value of work – or money, for that matter. At least, that’s what one Boston startup believes. Ourly, which launched this week, offers parents a digital service where they can assign work for their children to do and compensate them accordingly when tasks are completed.
According to Ourly CEO John Malone, the problem isn’t that children are lazy. He maintains they want to work, but they just haven’t had the opportunities presented to them in the right way.
“The currency for kids has changed,” he told us. “Everything is digital and it has lost its meaning. They don’t really know what work is and don’t understand it… As parents, we need to catch up with them or we’re going to disconnect with them. For them, their phones are everything. Instead of telling them to get off the phone, get on there with them. Otherwise, the conversation we’re having about technology looks a lot like lectures about how rock and roll music is bad.”
With its full development and launch, Ourly is now allowing parents to put money into the service and divvy it into different jobs they’d like their kids to complete. Malone said the tasks could come from a pre-populated list, such as cleaning their room or mowing the grass, or parents can create customized chores. Ourly then pushes out the jobs posted to the kids, including the deadline and compensation associated with it. If children choose to accept the proposed task, they are to do it, send their parents a picture of it completed through the service for proof and parents can then approve the payment.
“What parents are looking for is the right way to give their kids money and have meaning behind it,” Malone explained.
As of now, children can use the money they earn through Ourly’s gift card store. (The startup had surveyed kids about where they liked to spend their money and picked the top 50 stores for its gift card redemption offerings). In the coming weeks, the venture plans to release a junior branded MasterCard, which will let kids have more flexibility with how they use their hard-earned. Meanwhile parents have visibility into their children’s spending, receiving notifications about purchases made.
Ourly also offers kid users the option of donating a part of the money they earn. Although it doesn’t require them to donate, it makes them choose not to donate anything. So far, Malone said every child has opted to donate a portion of their money.
While there may be some parents out there who don’t believe in paying their children to help around the house, Malone raises a fair point. “We’re giving them the money anyway,” he said. “The scary part is we give them… an average of $780 a year without them doing anything, so they don’t connect with that money and don’t feel any sense of responsibility linked to it.”
For example, Malone cites how he pays for his son to play soccer. Before, he would hand over the money with nothing more said, but now, his son works to pay off soccer through Ourly.
“The conversation about money and values should happen, and this is a way you can start it,” Malone explained. “Instead of sitting down with them and telling them what they don’t get paid for and what they do, this shows them and lets them work for it.”
Currently, Ourly charges parents $1.95 every time they load money into their account, in the form of a transaction fee. However, Malone said the company intends on moving to a subscription-based model in the foreseeable future.